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The Dealer’s Choice, in Diss, opens its doors

Following the death of his father, former butcher John Blake decided to open his own gift store – dedicating his time to their shared passion for science fiction.

Now, just more than a week after opening, the store has unearthed a groundswell of film-buffs and boardgame lovers in Diss.

“When I was about two, he took me to see Empire Strikes Back and, from then on, I was always into science fiction and popular culture in general,” said Mr Blake, referring to his father, the former deputy mayor of Eye, of the same name.

Beth Odgers and John Blake, at the Dealer's Choice. Picture: Phil Morley.
Beth Odgers and John Blake, at the Dealer's Choice. Picture: Phil Morley.

“He got me into toy models and stuff at a young age, partly so he could keep doing it himself.”

His father died last year, after being diagnosed with a rare cancer. After selling his home, Mr Blake decided to turn to the love for collectables that was passed down to him by setting up The Dealer’s Choice – a self-described hobby shop in Cobbs Yard.

“That was what inspired me to do it,” added the 42-year-old.

“Once we sold my dad’s house, we had some spare money and I thought this would be a way of him investing in the business.”

After taking on a shop assistant, 25-year-old Beth Odgers, the pair got to work investing in a variety of film and science fiction-themed collectables, board games and memorabilia – from retro arcade machines to a life-size replica of Thor’s hammer.

Since opening last Wednesday, the store appears to have tapped into an undiscovered market on the Diss high street.

“We’re getting even more interest than we expected,” said Mr Blake, who lives in Denmark Street.

Miss Odgers, who lives in Tottington Lane, Roydon, added: “It turns out that there is a lot of people who are into this kind of stuff, and there’s a huge range of ages, too.

“I’ve found they are tight-knit communities; once someone who likes Dungeons and Dragons comes in, they let other people know and then they all start coming - it brings people together.”

To find out more, go to Facebook and search The Dealer’s Choice.

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